A good number of them toasted Aubin at the first annual Staff Honors Reception, where he received the UCLA Staff Assembly's 2004 Excellence in Service Award. On the sun-drenched patio of the Chancellor's Residence, Chancellor Albert Carnesale presented Aubin, senior associate director of counseling and campus relations at the UCLA Career Center, with a certificate and a check for $5,000.
"Al is a talented counselor of students, but, at least as important, he is a mentor to our counseling staff," Carnesale said. "He is being cited for his effectiveness in handling the needs of a diverse campus community and is well-respected not only on this campus, but throughout the UC system and beyond."
Many at the reception vouched for that. Natasha Levy, a student affairs officer in the Architecture and Urban Design Department, recalled how Aubin helped her when she was a master's student looking for part-time counseling experience. "He's accessible, caring and really loves what he does," she said. Jack Gibbons, associate director of the Office of Residential Life, called Aubin "an institutional landmark who goes above and beyond and is involved with everything."
As "landmarks" go, Aubin is refreshingly down-to-earth. His office is filled with toy giraffes, which he uses as a counseling tool: "Nothing is beyond your reach." On a shelf is an oversized wooden spool, a reminder of his childhood in Woonsocket, a textile-mill town in Rhode Island. The majority of Woonsocket's large French population worked in the mills, including Aubin's mother, a union leader and social activist.
"When I came to California, I was fascinated by my identification with Latinos," said Aubin, the first to attend college in his family. "Most of the people in Woonsocket worked in factories, and very few supervisors were French. In L.A., I found similarities with farm workers."
Aubin began his career in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies' Office of Student Services. Soon he was recruited to work on two federally funded projects, one of which dealt with developing leaders for urban education. "It opened my eyes to many multicultural issues," Aubin said.
He also worked in the Office of Experimental Education Programs but left UCLA to work for a food broker, returning when a position in Educational Career Services opened in 1981. That office later merged with the placement center and is now called the UCLA Career Center. Aubin became an administrator about 10 years ago but whenever he needs "a fix," he'll counsel students. He's currently involved with the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Disabilities as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center. He's also secretary/treasurer of the University Credit Union and an active member of Staff Assembly.
"There are people who just sit in their offices when there are so many opportunities on campus," Aubin said. "Reach out!"